Mark Kaigwa

Archive for January, 2009|Monthly archive page

Father Chuck Norris had many sons e.g. Tiger Power!!!

In Ramblings on January 30, 2009 at 12:54 pm

“Had many sons…Had many sons.. So Father Chuck Norris I am one of them and so are you… ”

You know about Tiger Power? You’d better, lest he let’s you know about him. Then we’ll have known about you.

He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest and manliest men any Kenyan ever knew. Ha, Chuck’s so invincible. The only guy I know personally who fought Bruce Lee, that’s serious, and he’s still around. Anyway here are some classic Chuck Norris quotes, and just in case it crossed your mind the answer is yes, Chuck does all my stunts. Here they are:

-Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

-The quickest way to a man’s heart is with Chuck Norris’ fist.

-What was going through the minds of Chuck Norris’ victims before they died? His shoe.

-Chuck Norris does not hunt because the word hunting implies the possibility of failure. Chuck Norris goes killing.

-Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

-Chuck Norris recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.

Long live Chuck Norris. I wish we had our own Chuck Norris, this inexorable figure that everyone just seems to almost idolize (idolatry is bad, no really) so it’s the most sincere form of flattery you can find.

Which brings me back to my original question ‘You remember ‘Tiger Power’? Sure you do! Imagine him lying down, in his wear-it-every-time-but-it-never-gets-dirty-or-smelly costume of an almost skintight red top and grey sweat-pants, don’t forget his leather I-go-to-the-gym-and-I-don’t-got-abs-but-i-got-a-good-belt! I’m not hating, I wore the belt also – briefly-, so I know. Anyway one of his signature moves, or set-pieces if you will, was him getting run over by a tractor. By tractor I mean a Massey-Ferguson tractor, and I’m talking about the back wheels. Oh, wait, no…that’s not right. It was a Land-Rover, yes, a Land Rover. In forward and reverse. Consecutively. Don’t worry, I was eventually able to pick my jaw off the grass after I saw it the first time.

Now, I wasn’t the greatest follower of Mr. Power, and my recollection is subject to embellishment and misdirected facts but I know one thing, Mama said eat your greens or I’m calling Tiger Power.

He was many things to us, including chosen son of Chuck Norris. In the same way the President of the U.S. has an indelible link with Kenya, it was chosen before time that through Chuck Norris, we would have a connection to the U.S. through Tiger Power.

He was actually the Kenyan version of Santa, think about it. A Santa. A Chuck Norris. A Santa who can fight. I know if Chuck was Santa he’d have werewolves for deer and a Ghost-Rider inspired chariot. I digress, moving on though, where did this generation of strong Santa-like Kenyan Chuck Norris-lings go? Anyway, he was an icon, and it didn’t matter how bad you were to your parents, if you went to the show, or to one of these random events and he happened to be there and do a set-piece, he always had some time he’d get the kids all around him and give them a word. The kids listened.

Their glazed-over eyes peeled, and ears enlarged, lapping up his words amidst his paced breathing thanks to his previous stunt, and “Tiger Power says…” was all they needed to hear. Come to think of it, Tiger Power was more than just a Chuck Norris-ling Santa-like. He had to have some Mr. T DNA inside him. Yes, that’s it. Mr. T.

Ok, so what do we have here. The affectionate heart and ticklish belly of a Santa, the clout (in every sense of the word) of a Chuck Norris, and all the menace of a ticked off Mr. T. It Makes me teary eyed if you ask me. I feel like I’ve painted the perfect picture of the Mona Lisa, if you know what I mean. Anyway, Tiger Power was like an idol, a Kenyan youth/manly man idol. Middle aged men wanted to be him, kids wanted to sit on his shoulders as he walked (One on each shoulder because he’s strong and balanced like that) and mother’s wanted him to be head disciplinarian of the household.

He was the answer to the Orie Rogo Manduli derived phrase ‘Total Woman.’ He was the ‘Total Man’

What were your fond/ not so fond memories of Tiger Power? Let me know.

“Ignore-guration Night”

In Poetree on January 27, 2009 at 9:00 am




Jovial Suits and Ties Celebrate

Gathering. Getting Close.

Anvils Dropping

Filled with Helium.

They prolong their buoyancy

Time telling ties that

Gravity will prevail.


Knives. Rushing In.

Fans Flare

Push Air

Back. Forth

Black Hoarse

Shouts and Pants

Stop to Dance

Yell OoOoOoH

Increase Vocal Exponentially

Inversely Reflect Emptiness


Harken. Listen

Dish out slices.

Fish out wishes

Dream dreams

And stitch back

Loose seams

Dark nights and

White daze.

Minority Reports

That my I’s don’t pray

Ok, I’ll stay awake.


Balloons fall

Unashamed by the wind

You pick up ribbon

I Drop the pen.

Same Invigilators.

Different Exam.



© 2009 Mark Wambugu Kaigwa

This Mother Tree – A Poem for ‘Maitu’

In Poetree, Real Talk on January 23, 2009 at 6:36 am

This is an original poem I composed and performed at my Great Grandmother’s funeral service.

———-This Mother Tree———

God made a seed.

He said to himself

This… will be a great seed.

God planted the seed.

This Mother Seed, He said, will truly be a Great Seed.

He planted it on the most fertile ground.

Small in size, the seed was.

God said

This Mother Seed, will be of great stature of heart.

God watered the seed.

With love.

He fed the seed with faith at His feet.

And God was happy

As This Mother Seed flowered and grew


This seed grew to be a tree

This mother tree, God Said, will be a great tree

A grand tree for all to see

This mother Tree bore fruit for all to see

They bathed in God’s warm light

And the shade of This Mother Tree.

Giving shade to new seedlings

Nuances of light

Enough to grow strong

Standing tall, This Mother Tree

Taught how to thrive and be strong.

Bringing life to all.


This Mother Tree bore fruit.

Fruits of laughter.

Fruits of joy

Fruits of Girls and Boys

Fruits of Gifts from Above

Fruits of Bundles of Love.

Seasons came and seasons past.

This mother’s influence and love has last.

This mother Tree


Peacefully in the wind.

In us is a seed.

And This Mother Tree remains


In You.

In Me.

Thank God for His little seed.

Love you Maitú Bella.

© 2008-2009 Mark Wambugu Kaigwa. All Rights Reserved. And all wrongs reversed 🙂

Uncovered Roots: The Journey of My Grandparents

In History's Future, Perspective on January 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Today was an amazing day as far as rediscovering and tracking back in time to find out about the family tree.

My cucu (grandma) on my Dad’s side took the family on a tour of where life began for her, and how it developed from the 1950’s when they first moved to Nairobi. We visited the very place that my aunt, Tata Bush, was born. Which was a house just off Jogoo Road in Kaloleni at a small 1 bedroom bungalow known as D16. We also went through Ofafa Jericho, Maringo, Buru Buru, Hamza, Maendeleo and a host of other nooks and crannies of Eastlands area of Nairobi.

It was amazing to see where my grandma first stayed, to see the shop my grandfather first opened here in the city. The story behind that is actually pretty amazing. It goes that they owned one of some 20 shops that form a cul-de-sac  of shops encircling a space that functions as the parking lot. At this shop, my grandfather would sell amenities and kerosene. The shop was called Kaigwa General Stores and sold groceries, sugar, salt, marbles for the kids and everything in between.

We met a man who was 2nd Generation butchery owner, and he recognized my father, and some of his siblings.  They had been running his butchery for fifty years now, and they had a dark room of sorts on the inside. The dark room being the room we passed through to get through to the back. It was lit by lonely streaks of light through the fifty year old corrugated fiberglass on the roof. It lit conspicuously onto a tray of matumbo that four middle-aged men were happily sharing over banter. We slid through the dim corridoor to the other side where we found the back wall. The story behind the back wall was equally amazing.

At the famed Kaigwa General Stores and all the other stores like it in the cul-de-sac, there was a practice less spoken of, yet practiced quite regularly. And it ought to be, considering what it was. Back in these days, the mid to late 50’s the sewerage system had not been fully developed in the African quarters that were Eastlands. All Africans would stay in Eastlands, from Kaloleni to Makadara. From what I’m told Makadara was comparable to the finest estates in the city now, and you had to somebody to stay there. Makadara is where the shop was, and remains to this day, though under a different name – Nyagachuhi General Store. The complex where it’s located is now called Hamza Shopping Centre, in Hamza Estate, on Hamza Road, off Jogoo Road. I should Google Map this, just so you can get the aerial view. I will.

So, back to this practice. Basically all they had for a sewerage system was a bucket. Yes, a bucket. The bathroom contained a bucket, and you would do your business, number 1 or number 2, and leave it be. At the end of the day, a handful of city council men with a truck would come round the back, and collect the buckets. The funny thing, because I asked the stupid question ” What happened if you weren’t done yet?”, was that you had to hold whatever you were doing once they grabbed the bucket. You could never for any reason continue to do your do-do once you heard a hand stick through the wall and grab the bucket.

The back wall of the complex had about two-by-two bricks missing at the bottom of the wall. They would stick their hands through the wall, mostly  unannounced, to grab your bucket. As I said, if you were halfway, you would hold, and wait until the bucket was returned. If you dared to continue what you were doing, ignored them or told them to wait, you were in trouble, big smelly trouble; they would either throw the bucket back or pour the contents over your floor, and consequently your feet. You didn’t want to mess with them. And so, you didn’t. God forbid you ever, for any reason got anything on the hand that grabs your bucket. You’ll be sorry.

One of the most amazing stories of the day, was how at the Kaigwa General Stores at Makadara, My late grandfather got the first Kerosene pump in the whole complex and one of the only ones in Eastlands. With it, he got ahead of the curve by creating one of the first neon signs that side of town. Here’s what I mean by neon: it was an electric box that hung from the canopy right outside the door of the store. On the outside it had a message written with little yellow lights and it read ‘Ukai mwone uriru’ which translates from Kikuyu to English to read ‘Come and See the Amazing Wonders’ and it didn’t just bring customers, it helped keep them.

At the bottom of the electric box were two yellow light bulbs, and these would flicker on and off every couple seconds. The real story comes from how all the kids would react, my father recalls watching a drove of young 3-8 year olds, among them his sister, my aunt, gaze dreamily at the sign for long periods of time. When the light would go on they would all shout ‘Menoooo!!!’ which has no direct English translation, but refers to when something goes bright suddenly.

When the bulbs would go off momentarily they would then shout ‘Bucha!!!’ which roughly means ‘blink’ in Gikuyu. As soon as dusk would approach, like moths to a lamp as it glows, they would begin to converge around the shop, even before it went on, waiting. They would wait, and then go ‘Meno!!!’ and ‘Bucha!!!’in unison as it flickered on and off. I just imagine it like one of these zombie movies with the last remaining humans, and they converge around the place. They never got tired, and they never got bored of singing.

Our trip today started with Makadara, went to Ofafa Maringo, where they had the Hodi Hodi Club, which  then Ofafa Jericho, then Bahati, then to Kaloleni where Tata Bush was gone. WE missed out on going to Bondeni, where Cucu and Guka moved to next, then they went to Makadara. From there to Ofafa Maringo, and from Ofafa to Garden Estate. Where we’ve been for the past 20 odd years. When my grandfather changed Kaigwa General stores to a bar – the Hodi Hodi club, he got a pair of gentlemen to run it, and they eventually bought it off him, as he began a farm on the land here in Garden Estate, our current residence.

It was a great privilege to see where my relatives were born and track the life and times of my grandparents as they began to work their way up in life. My late grandfather became deputy mayor of Nairobi, my grandmother, a businesswoman. All in all it’s been a blessing, and the perfect way to celebrate family in a new way.

Amen to that.